Tag Archive | "Jason Brown"

Ravens expected to be without two key contributors for start of offseason program

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Ravens expected to be without two key contributors for start of offseason program

Posted on 13 April 2012 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will officially open their Owings Mills facility for the start of their offseason workout program on Monday, but they shouldn’t expect to see two key starters waiting at the door.

Running back Ray Rice and starting cornerback Cary Williams are not expected to attend the voluntary workouts that will begin on Monday. Many veterans are typically absent at the start of the workouts, but the absences of both Rice and Williams stem from the status of their respective contracts.

After receiving the franchise tag in early March, Rice and agent Todd France have gotten nowhere with the Ravens in long-term contract negotiations and is not expected to attend organized team activities without a new contract. The two-time Pro Bowl back is currently scheduled to play with the $7.7 million franchise tender should the sides fail to reach an agreement on a new contract by July 15, and it’s possible he would decide to hold out during training camp without a new deal in place.

Meanwhile, Williams was given a second-round tender as a restricted free agent, which would pay him a $1.92 million salary for the 2012 season. Williams’ agent Marc Lillibridge also represents Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, who signed a six-year, $50 million contract last week, so it’s interesting to speculate how that might have impacted the sides’ negotiations regarding a new deal for Williams.

Attempts to reach Lillibridge for comment were unsuccessful.

Williams is not expected to sign his restricted tender for a few more weeks, according to the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora. However, the 6-foot-1 corner would probably not benefit from holding out considering the Ravens drafted Jimmy Smith in the first round of last year’s draft. Restricted free agents have until June 15 to sign the offered tender or the team may reduce the tendered amount to 110 percent of last year’s salary while still retaining the rights to the player.

Neither Rice nor Williams is required to report for voluntary workouts and are currently not under contract.

The Ravens have not yet announced the dates for their mandatory minicamp.

In other news, La Canfora reported the Ravens have made a “conservative” one-year offer to center-guard Jason Brown, who played in Baltimore from 2005 to 2008. Most recently with the St. Louis Rams, Brown was released earlier this offseason and was benched at one point last season due to ineffective play.

The Ravens are an estimated $1.9 million under the salary cap, meaning any offer to Brown or another veteran interior lineman would likely barely exceed the league minimum for veterans.

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Former Ravens Justin Bannan  and Jason Brown ready to hit the trenches against old mates

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Former Ravens Justin Bannan and Jason Brown ready to hit the trenches against old mates

Posted on 23 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

When the Ravens line up Sunday at 4:15 versus the St. Louis, they will have two familar faces looking across at them from the Rams offensive and defensive lines.

Anchoring the trenches for the Rams are former Ravens in center Jason Brown, and defensive tackle Justin Bannan. Both spent four years in Baltimore, with Bannan coming over as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills from 2006-2009, and Brown having stayed in a Ravens uniform from 2005-2009.

Brown was a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in 2005 out of North Carolina, and after three solid years starting at both center and guard, he parlayed that into one of the richest contracts ever given to an interior lineman with St. Louis.

Both joined WNST this week to talk about how odd it is wearing blue and gold as opposed to purple and black, and if they had any regrets of not being a Raven anymore.

Jason Brown

“It’s tough, but sometimes it has to be that way,” Brown told Drew Forrester of “The Morning Reaction” Friday. Of course I had made some strong connections and family there with the Ravens, and it was hard for me to leave the Ravens, but the thing is ultimately…my immediate family at the end of the day. I had to make that family decision.”

“It was tough with the lockout and everything,” Bannan told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday. “I signed here in the beginning of August and have been here ever since trying to get acclimated and get use to the new guys, new faces, and new defense. But it’s all come along pretty well.”

Justin Bannan

He’s looking forward to going up against his old friends and teammates, and one of them, guard Ben Grubbs, may not suit up against Bannan because of a foot injury.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Ben,” Bannan said. “I want to find out and see who I’m playing against, but obviously Grubbs is a great player and he’s a friend of mine.”

“I know a lot of the guys on that offensive line, so it’s always going to be a great matchup against them and it’ll be a great game.”

Playing in 58 games for the Ravens, Bannan felt like he learned a lot in Baltimore from coaches like Greg Mattison and Rex Ryan, and now he’s adjusting himself to playing for a similar coach in Steve Spagnuolo.

“In my mind, I like how he approaches the game,” Bannan said. “I like the way he coaches the game. He’s a smart man and he’s always taking into account everything. I’m glad to be a part of it. He’s always been good to me, and I think he’s a great coach.”

Brown said that Spagnuolo’s attention to detail is just as lively on the other side of the ball despite he being a defensive guy.

“Spags, he walks the walk and he definitely talks the talk,” Brown said. “He’s a man that’s led by faith…something a lot of guys identify with. When you have a foundation that you’re trying to build your team on built on discipline, responsibility, work ethic, morals-all those things, we have a great foundation here with the Rams.”

Bannan also gave Spagnuolo credit for giving him another chance to play in the NFL. Bannan, 32, was cut by the Denver Broncos in the off-season just one year, and for some, it could have meant the end of the line.

“Obviously, it was tough. I had a five-year deal there and they decided to make a business decision, and asked me to take a pay-cut.”

“That’s the nature of the business and that’s the business we’re in,” Bannan added. “You’ve got to move on, and you’ve got to take a step back and take a look at what you know.”

Bannan received a lot of praise in the preseason for his high motor, and for that, he has been receiving solid playing time the first two weeks of the season.

“I’m in my tenth year in the NFL and to me, that’s awesome to make it that far,” he said. “The fact that I still get to play this game and be on a great team and be around a bunch of great guys, it makes a huge difference.”

And while the team has not played well this early in the season, he attributed their struggles to early and predicts a turn-around on their part starting Sunday versus his old team.

“I like this team a lot, and I like this defense. It’s all talk saying we have a bright future, but I really believe that and it’s just a matter of putting it together and making it happen.”

Brown agreed.

“Things are definitely coming up out here in St. Louis and we know our biggest opponent right now is ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t played our best ball in the first two weeks right now. There’s so many mistakes that we can correct ourselves as an offense to put us back on track to being a great team.”

And like Bannan, he’s confident that it will start Sunday.

“Somebody’s going to walk away 1-2,” Brown said. “Even though we started off a little rougher than the Ravens right now, at the end of the day that’s what is going to have to be, 1-2.”

WNST thanks Justin Bannan and Jason Brown for joining WNST and wish them all the best following Sunday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

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Private Workouts Now in Focus with Draft Season Speeding Towards Conclusion

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Like Florence & The Machine said, “The Pro Days are over.”

Well maybe those weren’t the exact lyrics from Florence Welch and company, but the statement remains true.

Draft season has officially shifted from Pro Days to private visits and workouts.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Christian Ballard (Iowa)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhgvSsE5tLI[/youtube]

Ballard is one of a number of Defensive Ends that has wandered over to Owings Mills during Draft season.

The Ravens are clearly in need of a rush end, and have looked at a number of players who could fit the role. Ballard (6’4″, 283 pounds) managed to tally eight combined sacks over his junior and senior campaigns with the Hawkeyes despite playing part of that time on the interior of the line.

Ballard has shown good speed during Draft season, trimming his 40 time from 4.75 at the Combine to 4.70 at his Pro Day in Iowa City. He’s not a first round pick, but he is a player the Ravens could consider as early as the second round.

They may have addressed rush end before that. Ballard’s teammate Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and a number of other players are all higher on the board. The Ravens have a GLARING need at the position. If they don’t address it in the first, don’t be surprised if they address it with Ballard.

OT James Brewer (Indiana)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X01sxTrZZY[/youtube]

We don’t know for sure whether or not the Ravens have hosted Brewer at 1 Winning Drive, but we do know that the team paid special interest to Brewer’s Pro Day in Bloomington.

The Ravens have an issue along their O-Line. OT Jared Gaither is an unrestricted free agent and there are just a few question marks surrounding him. OT Michael Oher may or may not have a future at LT. G/T Marshal Yanda probably needs to return to being a Guard only.

The team will have to make some decisions.

Brewer (6’6″, 323 pounds) could help in that decision making process. He’s not a first round talent, but he looks like someone who is going to be able to play fairly early on if selected late Friday or early Saturday.

There is a SMALL issue with Brewer…he’s from Indianapolis. If he roots for the Colts, that could be trouble.

But otherwise, he has to be a legitimate option to help new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Stevan Ridley (LSU)

stevan

Unlike Ravens RB Ray Rice, Ridley’s game is much about power than speed (his 4.65 40 time at the Combine was better than either of his runs at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge). That could be a recipe to get him to Charm City, as the team may well lose both RB Willis McGahee (expected to be released) and FB Le’Ron McClain (Unrestricted Free Agent) this offseason.

Ridley might not be massive, but he packs 225 pounds in a 5’11″ frame. He has the look of a third down/red zone weapon at the next level, which is part of what the Ravens will be looking for in their backfield this offseason.

Ridley had just one big season with the Tigers before declaring for the Draft a year early. After rushing for just 272 yards and four TD’s combined between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he exploded for 1,147 yards and 15 TD’s as a junior. Clearly part of the reason for leaving early was to save some “tread” on his tires.

The Ravens paid special attention to Ridley at the Combine, where they learned more about why he was voted a team captain as a junior. He’s not a Thursday night pick and probably not a Friday night pick either. As the Draft wares into Saturday, he’ll look more and more appealing to the Ravens-who need to give Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron a change of pace option in the backfield.

CB Curtis Marsh (Utah State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-DwCYgqHWk[/youtube]

Just to recap the Ravens’ CB situation this offseason-Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents; Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent and Domonique Foxworth is coming off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. Lardarius Webb is the only corner that saw the field last season that remains fully under contract.

Clearly new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will need SOMETHING in his defensive backfield, be it returning players or newcomers.

Marsh is an intriguing option who has already visited General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company in Owings Mills. He was very much under the radar screen playing for the Aggies, but his 6’1″, 197 pound size and 4.42 speed have been undeniable during Draft season.

Marsh initially garnered attention for his matchup abilities against Boise State receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. He received a Senior Bowl invite but missed the week due to a hamstring injury.

Marsh could come off the board as early as Friday night. If the Ravens don’t select a cornerback in Round 1, he could be a legitimate option after that point.

DE Ricky Elmore (Arizona)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtE9qFonW7s[/youtube]

The Ravens have shown equal interest in Elmore and fellow former ‘Zona DE Brooks Reed, as both have shown an ability to get after Pac 10 quarterbacks.

Elmore tallied 21 combined sacks between his junior and senior seasons, finishing his Wildcats career with 25 sacks overall. During Draft season he’s been training with Clay Matthews Sr. (whose son is a pretty good pass rusher himself) in an attempt to even further improve his ability to get after QB’s.

Elmore is a physical beast, measuring in at 6’5″, 255 pounds. He’s not blazing fast (4.88 40 at the Combine), but he’s deceptively quick for his size.

As I mentioned with Ballard, the Ravens have to be desperate for rush help on the edge. If they select an end Thursday (or early Friday), they’ll likely want him to be someone who also has the ability to stand up in a 3-4 defense.

If they don’t go DE early, Elmore could be a better option later into the Draft (likely Saturday). Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company will have to determine how quickly Elmore could make an impact.

S Will Hill (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQK0xhpkE4Y&feature=fvst[/youtube]

Hill’s size (6’1″, 202 pounds) and decent speed (4.64 40) as well as his overall football ability (four interceptions over three seasons in Gainesville) should make him a solid Free Safety prospect.

Yet despite the Ravens showing interest in Hill at the Combine, he’s viewed as a borderline possibility to get picked anywhere in the Draft.

Hill’s issues are more off the field than they are on the field. He had some problems with his Twitter account-as well documented by the website “Every Day Should Be Saturday.”

Hill later claimed his Twitter account was hacked, but the damage was certainly done-and Hill didn’t exactly win everyone over with his comments about the incident at the Combine.

There are clear question marks off the field, which are clouding the ability he could have on the field. The Ravens appear to be in the safety market this offseason, as SS Dawan Landry is an unrestricted free agent and FS Ed Reed is…well…not getting any younger or healthier. Reserves Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura give them options to plug in, but they’ll certainly look for depth.

Should the Ravens not select a safety at all early in the Draft, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could take a chance on a player like Hill late in the Draft. After taking risks on DT Terrence Cody and LB Sergio Kindle early in the Draft last season, they might not be as quick to take a chance on a player with a red flag in this year’s Draft.

CB Chris Culliver (South Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jFfXPtIMlk[/youtube]

As I mentioned with Marsh, the Ravens have secondary issues this offseason. They’ll need to address them SOMEHOW, and Culliver could be part of that.

Culliver is a 6’0″, 199 pound corner who tallied four sacks and three interceptions during his Gamecocks career. (All three picks came in 2008.) He’s coming off a torn pec that caused him to miss the final six games of his 2010 campaign.

Of all of the corners on the Ravens’ active roster in 2010, only Williams (6’1″) is as big as Culliver. None have the blazing speed (4.36 40 at the Combine…which he stood on instead of running at his Pro Day in Columbia) that Culliver has.

Culliver paid a visit to Owings Mills during Draft season to meet with Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company. They likely wanted to see how fluid he was in coverage, as he played just one season at corner in the SEC after converting from safety.

The other nice option with Culliver is his potential involvement in the return game. Culliver finished his SC career with a school record 2,476 return yards. The Ravens got solid production from Webb and WR David Reed/RB Jalen Parmele in the PR and KR roles respectively last season, but they certainly didn’t do so much that they have to be considered locks to return in the roles. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg wouldn’t be disappointed to add another return man if the Ravens were to use a late Friday or early Saturday selection on Culliver.

G Will Rackley (Lehigh)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXM8yMXOHM[/youtube]

The Ravens have certainly had no trouble using a pick in the top half of the Draft on interior linemen before.

G Ben Grubbs (1st round), C/G Chris Chester (2nd round), G/T Marshal Yanda (3rd round) and St. Louis Rams C Jason Brown (4th round) have all been players the Ravens have selected early, and they’ve received mostly good results from the selections.

The Ravens don’t appear to have a glaring need amongst their interior linemen, but there are certainly issues to be addressed.

While Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to return Yanda to Guard, he’s an restricted free agent that could depart in the offseason. Even if he stays, the Ravens could be faced with a need to have him stay at RT should the team not re-sign Gaither or not Draft/Sign a better option at the position. After getting a second round tender, Chester (also a restricted free agent) is expected to return, but the team would prefer to have him play a utility role along the line instead of being penciled in at RG.

Rackley could be the type of player who could step in and play RG immediately. The 6’3″, 309 pound lineman turned a number of heads during East West Shrine Game week, showing he was quite capable of playing against big time opposition despite his FCS background.

Rackley was a four year starter for the Mountain Hawks, dominating Patriot League opposition. Clearly the AFC North (and the likes of DT’s like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Casey Hampton) will offer more significant opposition. Rackley is expected to be a Friday night pick, which could certainly be a legitimate place for the Ravens to jump up and grab him.

CB Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2jksB_vrsM[/youtube]

Similar to Curtis Marsh, Skrine is going to be looking to overcome a lower level of competition to make a name for himself as a National Football League corner. But Skrine (who played in the Southern Conference) has many more questions about competition to overcome than Marsh-who played his ball in the WAC.

Skrine (5’10″, 186 pounds) has great speed (4.37 40 at the Combine-but rumored to have actually been as fast as 4.29) and finished his Mocs career with five interceptions.

The Ravens both attended Skrine’s Pro Day and hosted him in Owings Mills in March.

The biggest question surrounding Skrine is whether or not he can play press coverage against NFL receivers, many of whom will have a slight to significant height advantage.

If the Ravens feel like he could be, it would make him a solid option late Friday or early Saturday.

LB Justin Houston (Georgia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR0L2RVId90[/youtube]

Houston appears to be a true standup OLB instead of a down DE, which could help as the Ravens try to find pass rush help.

At 6’3″, 270 pounds; Houston was considered “undersized” to play along the D-Line for the Bulldogs, so he was moved to the outside. He responded to the move by producing 10 sacks in 2010; finishing his career in Athens with 19 sacks total.

Houston’s size and solid speed (he trimmed his 40 time down to 4.57 at his Pro Day) make him a borderline first round pick. The Ravens are obviously in the market for pass rush help (more specifically someone to team with LB Terrell Suggs), and they have hosted Houston in Owings Mills during Draft season.

The only obvious red flag with Houston is a 2009 suspension by UGA coach Mark Richt for an unspecified violation of team rules.

While the team seems unlikely to trade out of the 26th spot this year, Houston could be the type of available player that would make them feel like they could. Should Houston be available in the 30-40 range, the Ravens would likely feel as though they got #26 value after trading back.

-G

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (41-60)

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (41-60)

Posted on 27 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number this week, I decided to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Part 1 and Part 2 covered jersey numbers 1 through 40 if you missed them.

Part 3 (41-60) presents the most obvious choice on the list—who was also chosen as the greatest player to wear his number in the history of the National Football League—as well as two of the most obscure numbers in team history.

41 Frank Walker (2008-09)

He was never popular among fans due to his propensity for drawing penalty flags, but Walker was not as bad as some made him out to be. Injuries often forced the backup into starter duty where his weaknesses were exposed.

His only competition for this number was Ralph Staten, a once-promising safety who was jettisoned from the team due to character issues in the spring of 1999. Regardless of where you stand with Walker, he is a pretty clear choice and has at least one big fan on YouTube.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ8A0kF5Gz0[/youtube]

Knowing Walker, it would not be a complete shock to find out he made this video himself.

42 Anthony Mitchell (2000-02)

I went back and forth between Mitchell and fullback Lorenzo Neal, but Mitchell’s three seasons in Baltimore allowed him to grab the honor. Mitchell spent his first two seasons with the Ravens as a special teams contributor before his workload in the secondary increased in 2002, starting six games and grabbing three interceptions.

Of course, the mere mention of Mitchell makes Baltimore think about a certain blocked field goal return in Nashville (check the 3:30 mark).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIiiXqnQ44k[/youtube]

43 Haruki Nakamura (2008-present)

Despite a promising future, Nakamura has done little to distinguish himself other than contributing on special teams in his first two seasons. However, it tops the work of other defensive backs like Vashone Adams and Anthony Poindexter.

44 Jason Brookins (2000-01)

The big tailback rushed for 551 yards in 2001, beating out the likes of Tony Vinson and Willie Gaston. Brookins is most remembered for leaving the Packers camp a year later after the staff asked him for his playbook, the traditional sign that a player is being cut. It turns out the coaching staff only wanted to add some new plays and by the time Brookins received the message, Green Bay coach Mike Sherman decided to cut the running back.

And the Baltimore coaching staff questioned his decision-making and intelligence while with the Ravens. Imagine that.

45 Corey Harris (1998-2001)

Harris

Harris spent most of his Ravens career as a backup and solid return man, but stepped up in a big way when safety Kim Herring went down with a sprained ankle in the 2000 playoffs. He started against Tennessee and Oakland and started all 16 at strong safety the following season.

46 B.J. Ward (2005)

The Florida State safety played in 15 games in 2005, making 11 tackles and forcing a fumble. Why is he the pick at No. 46? There is no record of any other player wearing the number in the regular season for the Ravens.

47 Will Demps (2002-2005)

The undrafted rookie was the surprise of training camp in 2002, not only winning a roster spot but becoming a starting safety next to Ed Reed for four seasons. Demps returned an interception for a touchdown in the Ravens’ only playoff game during his time in Baltimore, a 20-17 loss to the Titans in January 2004.

48 Frank Hartley (1996)

If linebacker Edgar Jones — who had previously worn Nos. 91 and 84 before switching to 48 this offseason — makes the 53-man roster this season, he immediately grabs the distinction. Until then, the tight end Hartley holds this spot despite never making a catch in eight games in 1996.

Don’t worry, I didn’t remember him either.

49 Chad Williams (2002-05)

Chad Williams

Williams is the easy choice after playing four seasons in Baltimore, registering eight interceptions and scoring three touchdowns as a backup safety.

50 Antwan Barnes (2007-present)

Though Dunbar graduate Tommy Polley and reserve linebacker Brad Jackson earn strong consideration, Barnes wins the honor with five career sacks and strong special teams play over his first three seasons with the Ravens. Despite a high ceiling, Barnes has yet to provide a consist impact as a pass rusher off the edge, something he hopes to change this season.

51 Cornell Brown (1997-2000, 2002-04)

Some will argue special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo for this spot, but Cornell Brown is the obvious choice despite wearing No. 90 in his second stint with the Ravens. Brown made 25 starts and was very good against the run, ofter sharing time with Peter Boulware when the Pro Bowl linebacker was ailing.

52 Ray Lewis (1996-present)

Never mind that Lewis was selected by SI.com as the best ever to wear the jersey number in the NFL. When you think of the Baltimore Ravens, No. 52 is the image that overwhelmingly comes to mind.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfKuYYl1bRI&feature=fvst[/youtube]

One of the greatest defensive players ever.

53 Jameel McClain (2008-present)

Tyrell Peters, T.J. Slaughter, and the injury-cursed Dan Cody also wore the number, but McClain has done just enough in special teams and passing downs to grab the distinction. His stature can rise even higher if he earns the starting job at inside linebacker this season.

54 Roderick Green (2004-05)

Green never realized his full potential as a Raven, but he is a marginally-better choice than Tyrus McCloud, Shannon Taylor, or current linebacker Prescott Burgess for No. 54.

55 Terrell Suggs (2003-present)

Many feel Suggs has never lived up the hype or the record-setting contract inked in 2009, but he is one of the most complete outside linebackers in the league when healthy and motivated. His two-sack performance against the Steelers in the AFC Championship two seasons ago was borderline heroic after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Titans a week earlier.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R26q5IudxRc[/youtube]

More sentimental fans will argue for Jamie Sharper — who would be a unanimous choice for any linebacker number other than 55, 52, or 58 — but Suggs has had the superior career.

56 Ed Hartwell (2001-04)

Hartwell put his name on the Baltimore linebacker map when he led the team in tackles in 2002 after Ray Lewis was sidelined with a shoulder injury. A good linebacker in his own right, Hartwell was overshadowed in his last two seasons with the Ravens, a palpable frustration he even voiced before departing for Atlanta in 2005.

57 Bart Scott (2002-08)

Just as popular with the media as he was with the fans, Scott was an undrafted linebacker who made himself into a Pro Bowl force during his seven seasons with the Ravens. His “hot sauce” tackle of Reggie Bush gained notoriety, but the linebacker will always be remembered for a hit he laid on a certain Pittsburgh quarterback.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZoDDYkoKi4[/youtube]

The number is currently reserved in honor of the heroic O.J. Brigance — who is certainly deserving as he continues to fight ALS — but Brigance would be the first to tell you Scott is the greatest Raven to don the No. 57.

58 Peter Boulware (1997-2005)

Boulware

The franchise’s all-time sack leader dealt with knee and shoulder injuries during his career, but he was a force as a pass rusher and made himself into an every-down linebacker after playing defensive end at Florida State. Boulware earned four trips to the Pro Bowl, won the 1997 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and is a member of the Ravens Ring of Honor.

59 Dannell Ellerbe (2009-present)

Ellerbe

Prior to the 2009 season, long snapper Joe Maese (2001-04) was the clear-cut selection here, but the undrafted Ellerbe made the 53-man roster and eventually wrestled away the starting inside linebacker spot from Tavares Gooden in the final month of his rookie season. Ellerbe’s interception against Oakland in Week 17 helped preserve a 21-13 win and a postseason berth for the 9-7 Ravens.

60 Jason Brown (2005-08)

Super Bowl-winning center Jeff Mitchell was blossoming into a Pro Bowl-caliber player before signing with the Carolina Panthers in 2001, allowing Jason Brown to seize recognition for this number. Drafted in the fourth round in 2005, Brown began his NFL career at left guard before moving to his college position of center in 2008. It earned him a huge payday with the St. Louis Rams the following offseason, as the Ravens could not afford to keep Brown.

Next up: For numbers 61-80, we will dive into the trenches with the offensive line, with a few obvious choices and several integers where we need to look long and hard to find a representative.

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 23 March 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Tuesday!

It’s another one of those “I THINK it’s a Happy” days today, as season allergies hit me like 6 tons of bricks last night. I have to get healthy before tomorrow night, because “The Luckiest Dang Gal on the Face of the Planet” and I are supposed to go see Alicia Keys at 1st Mariner Arena.

I can’t miss that.

I need your remedy ideas. What will get me healthy again? I’ve been taking the Benadryl Allergy stuff at night, but it makes me drowsy-so I can’t do it during the day. Or at least not when I’m working.

I need ideas. Apparently blood spinning won’t help me, but I’m willing to give it a try. Hell, I’m willing to try anything if it will make me feel better. So far I’ve tried this….

moosehead

And while it’s made me feel better…I’m not totally certain it’s working.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Ravens added veteran DL Cory Redding with 2 year deal

This appears to be a good acquisition.

Although nothing is guaranteed, Redding has a (mostly) solid track record-and we have reason to believe he might well be BETTER than Dwan Edwards. That being said, Edwards CERTAINLY had a better 2009 season than Redding did.

It appears as though Redding will slide in at Edwards’ position, possibly rotating out for Trevor Pryce in obvious passing situations.

I still expect the Ravens to pursue pass rush help in the NFL Draft-either at DE or OLB. BUT-I think this is a good addition for a team that needed D-Line help.

Although, my first choice of people to steal from Seattle would probably have been this guy….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pt03oU6RHI[/youtube]

Damn.

2. Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil says Redding struggled to start season in Seattle last year, but was one of Seahawks’ ‘better linemen’ down the stretch

I’ve heard a few people say something along the lines of “are we sure Redding was always giving his all in Detroit?”

For the record, I’m not.

That being said, I’m not sure I expect someone playing for the Lions to always give it everything he has on every play. I also know that things were VERY awkward in Seattle a season ago, with Jim Mora finally taking over, struggling, and going on to be fired.

It’s REALLY hard to judge what happened last season there.

I’m certainly willing to give Redding the benefit of the doubt, especially knowing that he’s coming to a MUCH better system. In talking with Redding yesterday, you could certainly sense the excitement he had about playing alongside the likes of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, etc. If you missed Redding on “The Bob Haynie Show” With “Hoops” & Mark Suchy yesterday-check it out in the Audio Vault at WNST.net.

(Edit from GMC: That makes back to back times that the Ravens have acquired a player and I was the first reporter in town to talk to the player, after Anquan Boldin a few weeks back. I don’t say that to brag or boast. I say that because I hope you’ll continue to turn to us for Ravens information-as well as information on all local sports.)

3. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens receive no compensatory picks in NFL Draft

Which we knew was coming. Unfortunately-for all of the players they lost (Jason Brown, Kyle Boller, Bart Scott, etc.); they also signed their own free agents (Domonique Foxworth, Matt Birk, LJ Smith, etc.).

The Ravens will still look to acquire 3rd or 4th round picks between now and when the Draft starts about a month from now.

I’ll look to acquire Olivia Munn’s phone number myself. I just can’t guarantee that either of us will be successful, but I probably have more faith in Ozzie Newsome and company. (Thanks Busted Coverage.)

munn

4. Philadelphia Daily News’ Bernard Fernandez says Zbikowski would consider boxing return if NFL has work stoppage

zbi

I had never thought about this.

First of all, I GENUINELY don’t believe there will be a work stoppage in the NFL. I really don’t. I think this will get worked out.

BUT-should there be a work stoppage, I just can’t see Tom Zbikowski REALLY use the time to step inside a ring; unless his relationship with the Ravens is somehow damaged between now and then.

Just because they might have to step away for a short time doesn’t mean they won’t ever have to play football again. While I doubt Tom Zbikowski WOULD be injured in a boxing ring, he’d certainly be putting himself at risk.

It would be pretty freaking cool, though.

5. The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Bisciotti currently AGAINST changes to OT rules

In fairness, I don’t necessarily think that the new OT rules are perfect, but I DO think they’re a better option than the current system.

Really, I’m fine with just about any system (really, I am) as long as games don’t end in ties. As we all know, tying is like kissing your sister.

Which is only okay if your sister looks like Angie Quesada…

quesada

6. Carroll County Times says former managers Johnny Oates, Ray Miller elected to Orioles Hall of Fame

Johnny Oates is clearly getting in because he was a great guy who sadly met his demise due to a brain tumor. He ABSOLUTELY did not do enough as a manager or player to warrant consideration for the honor.

Ray Miller was a very good pitching coach and not a good manager. I guess someone had to get in this year.

And apparently this guy didn’t get a whole heck of a lot of consideration….

cordova

7. The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Bordick will try to teach Birds’ minor leaguers ‘little things’

Like…which town has groupies you might want to stay away from? (Edit from GMC: I’m looking at you, Pawtucket.)

It’s great to have Mike Bordick back with the organization. I’d like to see even MORE former players involved with the organization somehow. Bordick is a guy who can certainly bring a quality perspective on defense, bunting, timely hitting, moving runners over, etc.

All of those things are really good for young ballplayers. Or veteran ballplayers for that matter. Like the ones playing in Baltimore for example.

8. Washington Post’s Dave Sheinin says O’s ‘full of hope’ this season

I think we should play a game: “Who’s going to write this story tomorrow?”

I’ll say Stan McNeal from the Sporting News. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it was someone from USA Today…or CBSSports.com…or wherever.

Here’s my only question. What side of the hill does Mr. “Hope” throw from? Does he have a win-loss record better than Jeremy Guthrie’s?

If so, I’ll take him.

9. Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Jordan Williams, Sean Mosley will be ‘most integral’ parts for 2010-11 Terrapins

And the team is going to NEED scoring from Adrian Bowie and/or Cliff Tucker.

And they’re going to need Dino Gregory to develop into a more all-around power forward.

And they’re going to need James Padgett and Ashton Pankey to be able to give them some minutes up front off the bench.

And they’re going to need the freshmen guards (Terrell Stoglin, P’Shon Howard, Mychal Parker) to give them SOME sort of contribution. Parker is clearly the most likely to do that, but Stoglin could end up working into the rotation as the point guard of the future.

Of course, we’re some 7 months even from Midnight Madness. Maybe we should calm down a bit.

10. Inside Lacrosse says Terps 4th in poll, Hopkins falls out of Top 10

It is definitely WEIRD to see the Blue Jays outside the Top 10, but you have to beat SOMEONE of note to be considered a top-tier team. (Edit from GMC: I’m terribly afraid that win will come against Maryland.)

What’s also weird is that no other local team (with MAYBE the exception of Loyola) is even a threat to get NEAR the Top 10.

Let’s step it up boys. It’s about time this town is recognized for something besides selling X-Boxes that were once evidence in a major trial on eBay.

And finally, I leave you with this.

For whatever reason, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were taken up by comments on “Dancing With The Stars” last night. You people do know that wrestling airs on Mondays, don’t you???

Here’s Chad Ochocinco…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw781NxOge4[/youtube]

And Here’s Erin Andrews…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2PX87DJRps[/youtube]

If I see your testicles lying around, I’ll try to return them to you.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 26 January 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Tuesday!

It’s a happy Tuesday for me (DESPITE staying up until 3am just to see Andy Roddick collapse again in the 5th set) because we had a great night at Hill Field House last night watching Morgan State paste UMES. The Morgan State band is always one of the highlights of a trip to see the Bears, and last night was no different. I didn’t get any new video of the band, but their highlight last night was a version of “Lollipop” by Lil’ Wayne. Thanks to the guy who filmed them doing it during football season….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46SHhjrf1LE[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say….

1. Pro Football Talk/NBC Sports’ Mike Florio reports former Patriots DC Dean Pees to become new Ravens LB Coach

Pees has a track record as a capable coach, even if his stint as Pats DC wasn’t as successful as fans in New England had hoped for. I think Pees would be a very nice addition to this Ravens staff, whether or not he is just taking the job in hopes of getting the old “Ray Lewis rub” that a number of coaches have gotten.

Pees’ link to John Harbaugh is via Miami (Ohio) University, where Harbaugh played CB under Pees as defensive coordinator. So far, I have found no link between either coach and Wally Szczerbiak, but I wish there was….

wally

2. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Vic Fangio could still have future with Ravens even if Pees hired to coach LB’s

I saw a lot of comments yesterday like “It’s a shame Vic Fangio had to learn he was getting fired this way”, but I just don’t know that we can assume that. Fangio came to this team in an undefined defensive assistant role, and I think it is safe to think that he might stay on in a defensive assistant role, with a focus on quality control.

For a team that struggled with small situations last year (need we relive the timeout disasters, review mistakes and the loss of 5 yards on a ball spot blunder), maybe having a single coach focused directly on quality control would be a good idea.

Remember, this is just me speculating. But Fangio is a Harbaugh guy, and I just don’t see him being given his walking papers to make way for Dean Pees. Something tells me this was worked out beforehand.

3. Chicago Tribune’s Vaughn McClure says Hue Jackson won’t interview with Bears

According to information obtained by WNST this morning, we expect Jackson to accept the Offensive Coordinator job with the Raiders.

And why not?

The Raiders have JaMarcus Russell, Chaz Schilens and Al Davis!

Best of luck to Hue Jackson. I’m just not certain this is a great move for him.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Drew’s speculation surrounding Al Saunders moving into Jackson’s role ended up being accurate, either.

4. Ravens Official Site’s Mike Duffy says team would be best to keep Derrick Mason

I understand Duff’s thought process here. With a likely uncapped year, the “Final 8″ rules will really hurt Ozzie Newsome’s pursuit of a legitimate playmaker at WR. With that in mind, Mason is a known commodity who has constantly put up numbers and been a reliable target right here in Charm City.

It makes sense.

Problem is, Derrick has to be willing to accept that he’s not getting the typical “big money” deal that many #1 wideouts would get. He also has to be willing to accept that the team wants to upgrade at WR, bringing in a new #1 threat that will likely take away from the number of times Joe Flacco goes to Mason.

I don’t necessarily think bringing back Derrick Mason would be a bad idea. In fact, I think the Ravens could be well served to have him for another season as they try to push towards a Super Bowl. But I don’t think it will be as easy as saying “we want you back.”

5. ESPN.com’s James Walker says losing Bart Scott, Jason Brown, Jim Leonhard and Marques Douglas could land Ravens multiple compensatory NFL Draft picks

Which makes the preparation the Ravens did last week in Orlando and this week at the Senior Bowl all the more important. This team is going to have to find some NFL-ready players in April’s Draft, as they will be hard pressed to keep all of the guys facing free agency, and they are a bit handcuffed by the Final 8 rules.

I couldn’t help but notice that Kyle Boller wasn’t on that list. He’s not an impact player per se, but isn’t he worth something?!?!?

6. Morgan State Official Site says Reggie Holmes, Troy Smith combined for 40 as Bears pasted UMES at Hill Field House

Just an overwhelming performance from Todd Bozeman’s crew last night. Troy Smith has really come on for them, responding after an incident in December that Todd Bozeman would only describe as a “transgression” postgame.

I guess you have to consider the fact that UMES was the opponent, but Frankie Allen has made improvements in Princess Anne, and the Hawks were coming off a win at Coppin State on Saturday. They had absolutely NOTHING to offer against Morgan last night.

The Bears return to action Saturday evening at Norfolk State, as they continue their quest for a perfect season in MEAC play. If you missed Todd Bozeman with Drew Forrester on “The Comcast Morning Show” this morning, check out the Audio Vault at WNST.net.

7. The AP says Quinston Reggins scored 14, but Coppin State fell to Delaware State at CSPEC

This was one of the Eagles’ best chances to make sure they got a win in conference play this season. They will be fighting to get a victory the rest of the way. They return to action Saturday afternoon at North Carolina A&T.

8. Maryland Official Site previews tonight’s ACC tilt with Miami at Comcast Center

It’s WAAAY too easy to say that the Terps shouldn’t lose to the ‘Canes tonight. We all know the Terps shouldn’t lose to the ‘Canes tonight. But there is certainly a danger to how well the Terrapins have been playing recently, as they need to remain focused. Frank Haith has had good success against Gary Williams, but usually with a more veteran team.

If I had to guess, I’d say 81-70 Maryland.

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Jordan Williams excelling because he takes pride in playing with ‘back to basket’

I’m running out of adjectives to use to describe Jordan Williams-and his career is 18 games old.

As he progresses, this team can continue to go far this season. If he continues to improve during ACC play-the Sweet 16 aspirations this team had before the season could be very legitimate. If he levels off, this team will likely end up back on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

10. Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg remembers former Maryland AD Jim Kehoe

I wish I had gotten to know Jim Kehoe before he passed away. He certainly did a tremendous job as Athletic Director at Maryland, and he was honored with a moment of silence before Saturday night’s win over NC State.

I’d like to add more here, I am just forced to admit that I don’t know a whole lot more about Jim than what you can read in Stan’s story.

11. The Sun’s Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec say Jeremy Guthrie doesn’t think anything changes for him with Kevin Millwood joining staff

And other than not starting on Opening Day, he’s right. He will still have high expectations this season, and he will have to perform better than he did a season ago to remain a mainstay in an Orioles rotation with a lot of young pitchers coming up.

Here’s a more important question. When the Birds decided NOT to persue FA pitcher Brad Penny this offseason, were they aware he was dating Karina Smirnoff???

smirnoff

12. ESPN.com’s Eric Karabell says O’s lineup full of fantasy “sleepers”

He’s exactly right. This team is full of “sleepers.” If they all turn out to be rock stars, this team will be in good shape. If they turn out to be sleep-ing, they’ll be in trouble. But a lineup with Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Miguel Tejada, Garrett Atkins, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Luke Scott and Cesar Izturis looks on paper like it might be credible.

At least if someone in that group turns out to be a power hitter.

And finally, I leave you with this.

I have NO IDEA how I missed this, but thank God it was directed back to me. Back when Bruce Springsteen was honored by the Kennedy Center, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder did a version of the Boss’ outstanding tune “My City of Ruins”….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvMFdAtsRTg[/youtube]

WOW.

Apparently you can buy the song on iTunes to help some sort of charity. Maybe Haiti. Maybe cancer. I should’ve done more research here. Go buy the tune.

Talk to you tonight from College Park.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…..

-G

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Chiefs @ Ravens Game Preview

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Chiefs @ Ravens Game Preview

Posted on 11 September 2009 by Derek Arnold

RavensChiefs

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, finally. We survived another offseason, and we finally get the chance to spit out that nasty aftertaste that has lingered in our collective mouths since that fateful night in Pittsburgh last January (damn you, Daren Stone!) A new season is upon us, one that sees our expectations for our team astronomically higher than they were just one year ago. In this space in Week 1 last season, I picked the Bungles to trounce the Ravens 27-13. Like most of you, I all too vividly remembered the nightmare 5-11 previous season, and had little confidence that a rookie QB and rookie head coach could come in and make such an immediate impact.

Shame on me. Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh made me eat my words, leading the Ravens to an 11-5 record and two playoff wins. The question now becomes, can they duplicate their success, and avoid a second-year letdown (or “sophomore slump,” if you want to get all cliche’ about it)?

The Ravens lost a couple pieces from that squad, most notably inside linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard, center Jason Brown, and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. Every preview you read about the Ravens drones on and on about the loss of Ryan and Scott being potentially catastrophic. To which I say, GET OFF MY CLOUD!

The Ravens have proven, time and time again, that no matter the coordinator (Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan), or the pieces plugged into the positions, that it is the scheme, aggression, and defensive tradition here in Baltimore that makes them a perennial Top-5 defense. As much as we hate to admit it, there is another team to the northwest of us who have done the same thing for far longer than we have. Being stuck in the same division as those who shall not be named, the Ravens have followed the same model, and success has come along with it.

Bart Scott was the third best LB on last year’s team. Tavares Gooden is more than ready to pick up any slack that the departure of Bart may have left. Jim Leonhard was only playing because of injury to the usual starter, Dawan Landry, who is a better all-around safety. New coordinator Greg Mattison has been coaching for 38 years. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs are all back. The Ravens will once again be an elite defense, make no mistake about it.

The unknown, as always with the Ravens, is whether or not the offense can continue its evolution, and build upon the modicum of success it showed a year ago. Nine of 11 starters return, with center Jason Brown and tackle Willie Anderson being the only losses. Brown is replaced by Pro Bowler Matt Birk, a definite short-term upgrade, while rookie Michael Oher takes over for the retired Anderson. Oher has been a beast in the preseason, and looks like another first round gem from Ozzie Newsome. Still, expect some growing pains as he gets used to matching up against the top pass rushers in the NFL.

Flacco comes off a season in which he became the first rookie QB to ever win two playoff games. He passed for 2,971 yards in his rookie campaign, throwing 14 TD and 12 INT. Over the final 11 games of the season though, he had 13 of those TD, and only five of the picks, showing steady improvement. After a brief retirement due to the loss of his good friend Steve McNair, Flacco’s favorite target, Derrick Mason, returns for another shot at his first Super Bowl ring. Joining Mason in catching balls will again be Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, and the Ravens added former Bengal and Patriot Kelley Washington to the WR corps (no Brandon Marshall or Anquan Boldin, much to the chagrin of some). Todd Heap appears healthy and involved in the offense in the fake games, and L.J. Smith, if he can ever get on the field, will provide another strong target for Flacco.

Also expected to contribute heavily in the passing game, as well as on the ground, is second year RB Ray Rice. Rice appears by all accounts to be the Ravens “starter” at RB, with Willis McGahee relegated to the change-of-pace role, and Le’Ron McClain returning to his natural blocking-back FB position with the departure of Lorenzo Neal. We still expect “Pain Train” to get some touches here and there, but Rice should see the lion’s share of carries in 2009. Rice averaged 3.6 yards on 23 carries (ehhhhh) and 9.0 yards on 12 receptions (ooooh) in three preseason contests. The Ravens seemed very pass-heavy in the fake games though, and I have a feeling that was more for “practice” for Joe than an indication of their actual game plans for this season.

CasselWuss

Kansas City won just two games in 2008, and as a result installed a whole new regime. New head coach Todd Haley replaces Herm Edwards, and a big trade brought Matt Cassel from New England to displace Tyler Thigpen at QB. Cassel tweaked his MCL against Seattle in the third preseason game, and is still questionable for the game. If he is unable to go, Brodie Croyle will start at QB for the Chiefs, in which case, you might want to look away, Mama Croyle. The Chiefs still have WR Dwayne Bowe, an emerging star in the NFL, but they lost their longtime stalwart in the passing game, TE Tony Gonzalez, to the Atlanta Falcons.

Chiefs RB Larry Johnson was the last back to gain 100 yards on the ground against the Ravens, a streak of 35 games; this is an impressive number, despite what perennial nay-sayer Mike Preston would have you believe. He isn’t what he used to be, but Johnson could still give the Ravens trouble, especially if the ease with which the Jets and Panthers were able to run the ball on the Ravens in the preseason is any indication. Look for the Ravens to stack the box, and dare Cassel/Croyle to beat them through the air.

On defense, the Chiefs were #31 in the NFL in 2008 (#28 passing, #30 rushing). Linebacker Mike Vrabel came over in the Cassel trade (a fact he is none too pleased about), but one man can’t fix that kind of ineptitude. After losing DE Jared Allen, the Chiefs plummeted to the bottom of the league in sacks, taking down opposing QBs only 10 (!!!) times all year. This all paints a rosy picture for Joe Cool & Co.

The one thing that gives us pause is this – Todd Haley was the offensive coordinator for Arizona prior to coming to Kansas City. During Week 3 of the 2007 season, the Cardinals were stymied by Rex Ryan’s D for three quarters, before storming back with 17 points in the fourth to force a last-second FG by Matt Stover to win it for Baltimore. Did Todd Haley figure something out that he can carry over to Sunday’s game? Add in that the Chiefs acquired WR Terrance Copper, who spent part of 2009 with the Ravens, and the potential for some Willie Anderson-like shenanigans (the Bengals accused Anderson of tipping off the Ravens to their plays during Week 1 last year)…does this game get a little closer than we might originally think?

In short, no. As discussed, Greg Mattisons’s defense is not Rex Ryan’s defense. Nobody is confusing Cassel, Copper, and Bowe with Warner, Boldin, and Fitzgerald. And Copper wasn’t around long enough to learn much, if anything, of the Ravens’ system.

Ravens 24 Chiefs 10

Yours in the comments.

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Live from Westminster: McGahee and Grubbs off PUP list, Kelley Washington on

Posted on 30 July 2009 by Luke Jones

7:39 p.m. — The Ravens’ official site reports that Willis McGahee and Ben Grubbs have been removed from the PUP list, but wide receiver Kelley Washington was added to the list.  There was no word on the reason why Washington was placed on the list.

The Ravens also signed wide receiver Thomas White out of Baylor.  White has good size at 6-2 and 205 pounds.  You can read his college bio here.

6:35 p.m. — The press conference was spiced up by a surprise appearance by Terrell Suggs.  The Pro Bowler complimented Oher on his first practice as a Raven and even asked him about the upcoming season.  Great stuff from T-Sizzle!

6:18 p.m. — The press conference has concluded, and Michael Oher expressed relief at having the contract signed and being able to focus on football.  The entire press conference will be up in the WNST audio vault if you’d like to hear from the Ravens’ new right tackle directly.

Ravens general manager did most of the talking, but Oher expressed enthusiasm for being a Baltimore Raven.

Here are just a few notes from the press conference:

- Ozzie Newsome called it a tough negotiation, citing how very few first-round picks had signed and how the Ravens reported to camp earlier than most teams.  The general manager believes it’s a fair deal for both sides.

- Oher was disappointed that he was unable to join his fellow rookies for Monday’s reporting date.

“I felt like I let my team down.”

- Newsome went on to describe his first-round pick as a hard worker and a team player.  With Oher, Gaither, Terry, and Oniel Cousins in camp, he feels like the offensive tackle position has been taken care of.

- Newsome credited Pat Moriary and Oher’s agent Jimmy Sexton for stepping “outside of the box” to project the slot and complete the deal despite they’re being so few picks signed.

- The Ravens’ architect discussed the state of the offensive line, saying that it starts with the addition of a “great technician” like Matt Birk.  He believes the six-time Pro Bowler will be a great influence for the younger players on the line.

Newsome believes the Ravens now have great depth on the offensive line, an absolute necessity for succeeding in the NFL.

- Newsome credited offensive line coach John Matsko and assistant Andy Moeller as being as good as anyone in the league in terms of offensive line coaches.  Their influence on this young and athletic offensive line has been substantial.

3:34 p.m. — It is official.  Michael Oher has signed his brand new five-year contract with the Ravens.

We’re about two hours away from his press conference, and Ozzie Newsome will also be on hand to talk to reporters.

I’ll be on the scene, and we will have their comments for you in the WNST audio vault.

12:57 p.m. — Various media sources report Oher’s five-year deal is valued at up to $13.8 million with $7.8 million guaranteed–not too far away from my estimate of $8 million in guaranteed money.

12:42 p.m. — I just received official word from the Ravens that the Michael Oher press conference will take place at 5:30 p.m.

I will be live on the scene and will bring all the details to WNST.net.

12:11 p.m. — What a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time, the offensive line was one of the biggest question marks on the team.  Future Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden had officially retired, and the Ravens had severe question marks at both left and right tackle.

Fast forward to this year, and the Ravens now possess two young, talented tackles in Jared Gaither and Oher.  They drafted left guard Ben Grubbs with their first-round pick in 2007 and used their third-round pick that year to select right guard Marshal Yanda.  Though Yanda is currently on the PUP list, recovering from a severe knee injury sustained against the Colts last season, he is expected to play this season.

The Ravens may have lost center Jason Brown in free agency to the St. Louis Rams, but six-time Pro Bowl selection Matt Birk brings a veteran presence to an extremely talented and young offensive line.

The wide receiver position is obviously a concern, but any knowledgeable football fan will tell you the key to a successful offense starts in the trenches.  This offensive line is young and has the potential to be very good in 2009 and beyond.  If they can provide Flacco the sufficient amount of time to throw, this group of receivers will look much better—with or without Derrick Mason.

10:52 a.m. — For any Ravens fans wondering if Oher missing the first two days of practice is a major concern, remember the Ravens only had two other offensive linemen practicing.

Even if Oher had been present, he simply would have been working on drills with Robby Felix and Bryan Mattison.  If Oher is truly the dynamic force the Ravens expect him to be, I highly doubt his absence over the first two days will have any effect whatsoever—assuming he is in good physical shape.

10:22 a.m. — Though the Ravens have an administrative day closed to both the public and media today, I’ll be in Westminster for the Michael Oher press conference this afternoon.  General manager Ozzie Newsome will also talk to the media.

Oher, the 23rd overall pick, reached an agreement with the Ravens on a five-year contract last night, ending his brief holdout.  Terms have not been disclosed at this time, but the deal will likely include around $8 million in guaranteed money.

Oher will fly to Baltimore today, sign his contract, take a physical, and join his teammates in Westminster.  If all goes according to plan, he will be on the field practicing tomorrow for the Ravens’ first full-squad workouts of the summer.

The Ravens’ projected starting right tackle was the sixth first-round pick to agree to a contract.

Former Maryland Terp Darrius Heyward-Bey became the seventh this morning, agreeing to a deal with the Oakland Raiders.

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Looking ahead to training camp

Posted on 08 June 2009 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles in last place and owning the second-worst record in baseball, Baltimoreans are obviously looking ahead to the Ravens reporting for training camp on July 27—only seven weeks away.

The team holds another passing camp this week, as we continue to focus on several key positions.

As we look ahead to 2009, key departures include linebacker Bart Scott (New York Jets), center Jason Brown (St. Louis), safety Jim Leonhard (Jets), cornerback Chris McAlister (unsigned), offensive tackle Willie Anderson (retired), Lorenzo Neal (Raiders), tight end Dan Wilcox (unsigned) and defensive end Marques Douglas (Jets).

In addition to selecting six players in this year’s draft, the Ravens have added cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth (Atlanta) and Chris Carr (Tennessee), center Matt Birk (Minnesota), tight end L.J. Smith (Philadelphia), quarterback John Beck (Miami) and receiver Kelley Washington (New England).

With so many new veterans and rookies in the fold, training camp in Westminster, Md. figures to host several key positional battles as the Ravens prepare for their opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 13.

The following is a look at five key positional battles—in no particular order—to watch during training camp at McDaniel College.

1.  Inside Linebacker

The departure of Scott leaves a gaping hold next to Ray Lewis at the other inside linebacker position.  Scott did the dirty, physical work of taking on blockers, leaving the veteran Lewis free to pursue the ball carrier.  The younger Scott was also stronger in pass coverage than Lewis.

Second-year player Tavares Gooden looks like the safe bet for Scott’s replacement in the starting defense, but this may not be a foregone conclusion.

The 2008 third-round pick is a health risk after spending most of last season on injured reserve with a hip injury.  He also had a history of concussions and shoulder problems at the University of Miami.

At the team’s earlier minicamps, Gooden appeared bigger and faster, a good sign for coordinator Greg Mattison’s defense. He has reportedly been spending time at Lewis’ home, watching film and gaining wisdom from the 34-year-old linebacker.

If Gooden does not get the nod on the inside, another option could be second-year linebacker Jameel McClain.  The undrafted free agent from Syracuse emerged last year to grab a spot in training camp and worked his way up the depth chart, earning significant playing time as the season progressed.

McClain finished the season with 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks and was a strong contributor on special teams.  His biggest challenge will be adjusting to the inside after playing outside linebacker last season and defensive end in college.

Fifth-round draft pick Jason Phillips (TCU) is a gritty and physical linebacker, but he would be a long shot to grab the starting spot as a rookie.  The organization could also look to Brendon Ayanbadejo, but his value on special teams would be hard to sacrifice with other options at inside linebacker.

2.  Backup Quarterback

A quarterback controversy is brewing in the Charm City; only for once, it’s not over who will be starting under center—Joe Flacco has finally stabilized the position for the Ravens.  The real battle will take place between incumbent backup Troy Smith and newly-signed John Beck, a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007.

Smith found moderate success running the Ravens’ version of the Wildcat formation—the “Suggs” package—at times last season, but his size (6’0″) makes it difficult for him to spot receivers in the pocket, forcing him to move outside. The 6’2″ Beck is a more traditional drop back passer.

Beck has strong ties to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (Miami’s head coach in 2007) and would figure to have a strong grasp on the playbook, improving his chances to overtake Smith for the backup spot.

The Ravens will once again try to use Smith’s athleticism, so he figures to be the No. 2 quarterback (the No. 3 can only enter the game if the starter and backup are injured).  However, a long-term injury to Flacco might cause the coaching staff to play the more traditional quarterback Beck.

Smith oozes with confidence, but he failed to grab hold of the starting job last preseason before suffering a tonsil infection, opening the door for Flacco to become the team’s starter in his rookie season.  This factor might weigh on coach John Harbaugh’s mind as he decides who will back up the talented Flacco.

3.  Kick/Punt Returner

With the departure of Leonhard to the Jets, the Ravens must find a new punt returner and try to stabilize the kick return position.

Newly-signed defensive back Chris Carr had a good season with the Titans and would likely be the top candidate for the job.  He averaged 28.1 yards per kick return (fourth in the NFL) and 10.1 yards on punt returns.

If injuries in the secondary would force Carr into the starting lineup, several in-house candidates are presently on the roster.

Yamon Figurs began last season as the primary kick and punt returner, but it’s clear he is not a favorite of the current coaching staff.  Figurs appeared hesitant in returning kicks and struggles holding onto the ball at times.  He is currently recovering from foot surgery and will need to have a strong preseason to stay on the roster.

Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb, a third-round pick, returned kicks at Nicholls St. and will compete for the job.

Tom Zbikowski returned kicks at the end of last season but did not provide much of an impact.

Sixth-round pick and rookie running back Cedric Peerman also returned kicks at the University of Virginia, but the team would figure to allow Peerman to focus his efforts competing at the running back position.

Carr would figure to have the upper hand, but strong training camp performances would certainly blur the competition a great deal.

4.  Kicker

For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Ravens are uncertain who will be their kicker on Opening Day.  Matt Stover was not re-signed but is on general manager Ozzie Newsome’s speed dial if the other options do not work out.  Harbaugh continues to speak with the veteran kicker regularly.

Steve Hauschka was the team’s kickoff specialist in 2008 and made one of two field goal attempts.  He has a big leg, but trying a long field goal before the half is quite different than kicking a game-winning 42-yarder when the pressure is on late in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens signed rookie free agent Graham Gano from Florida State to compete for the job. Gano won the Lou Groza Award in 2008, awarded to college football’s best kicker.  He made 24 of 26 attempts last season with the Seminoles, hitting five of seven from 50 or more yards.

While a battle at kicker isn’t going to capture the city’s attention, it is crucial to stabilize the position entering the season.  If neither Hauschka nor Gano can win the job in the preseason, look for Stover to return for his 14th season with the Ravens.

5.  Right Tackle

This position would have been the featured battle of training camp had veteran Willie Anderson not announced his retirement several weeks ago.

First-round pick (23rd overall) Michael Oher of Ole Miss is a tremendous talent at 6-5 and 309 pounds.  His story was well-chronicled prior to the draft, and the Ravens appeared to snatch up another highly-talented player in the later stages of the first round.

Oher has performed well in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) and has picked up the offense quickly, according to the coaching staff.

With veteran tackle Adam Terry continuing to battle an ankle injury, the job appears to be Oher’s to lose.  Terry would be the ideal backup for both Oher and left tackle Jared Gaither since he has experience playing both positions in the NFL.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 11 March 2009 by Glenn Clark

Two Orioles-related notes I’ve been reading about in recent days….

1- I wanted the Orioles to go get pitching; and Pedro Martinez can possibly pitch. At this point; guys like Rich Hill and Mark Hendrickson might not be in the rotation anyway; so maybe the Birds are just as well going with a combination of Albers, Pauley, and Penn at the end of their rotation. But if Pedro comes here and pitches for a while; the Orioles could be able to move him. I wouldn’t have a problem with them adding him at a reasonable to semi-risk cost.

2-Dumping veterans is ALWAYS a good idea for this team; so if the Yankees would be interested enough if Melvin Mora to make a true offer; they’d have to entertain it. But I LOVE Melvin Mora; and I’m not completely sold on Scott Moore just yet. Maybe keeping Moore up here is a good idea and trying to move Mora in July would be more prudent.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Tuesday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester says Terps have to decide if Gary more important than program

Nestor Aparicio says Brown’s deal with Rams disapproved by NFL

Drew Forrester says McAlister could end up with Steelers

Nestor Aparicio says 52’s deal has $16.5 million guaranteed

Nestor Aparicio offers Chapter 6 of book on love of Orioles

Ed Frankovic says Caps snap losing streak with OT win over Predators

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Uehara will miss at least one start with hamstring strain

MLB.com’s Ian Browne says Moore homers to lift Birds past Red Sox

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of win

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Huff has improved from tough circumstances

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Uehara thinks he might miss ‘1 or 2 starts’

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Pauley goes for Birds today vs. Glen Perkins, Twins

The Sun says former Oriole Mussina thinks retirement ‘feels good’

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Uehara had history of leg problems in Japan

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck wonders if Pedro conversations will start again should Hill not get active again

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Uehara wouldn’t attribute struggles in last start to injury

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Wieters 0-2 with strikeout in win over Red Sox

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. lists promotions for Delmarva, Bowie

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Newsome thinks Mason will remain with Ravens

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says team working to schedule Ray Lewis press conference

The Sun’s Mike Preston says fans still supportive of Stover

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says contract for 52 officially 7 year deal

Examiner Tony Wisniewski thinks Holt would make ‘perfect sense’ for Ravens

Examiner Tony Wisniewski says Mason situation ‘could change’ if club signs Holt, drafts receiver

Examiner Steve DeClue says 3 year extension ‘out of the question’ for Mason

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Lewis under contract with Ravens until 2015

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ray will likely play 3-4 years of his 7 year deal

ESPN.com’s James Walker says former Packers CB Jarrett Bush to visit Ravens

ESPN.com’s James Walker says DHB on Ravens’ ‘radar’

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer says Jets’ signing of Scott best in offseason

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Official Site previews ACC Tournament opener vs. NC State

The Official Site offers complete Terps-Pack release (pdf)

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Gary thinks Terps ‘in good shape’ for NCAA Tournament with two wins in Atlanta

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps have attempted just 8 free throws in last 2 games (both losses)

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Neal thinks Vasquez will enjoy the extra attention from NC State fans due to meaningless 3 in last game

The Sun’s Jeff Barker ‘shudders’ at thought of Terps without Vasquez

Examiner Steve DeClue ‘can’t get over’ loss to Virginia

The AP says Gary has Terps’ ‘whole focus’ on NC State

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Cleveland State beating Butler will hurt teams like Terps

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary’s last trip to Georgia Dome ended with national championship

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Terps all taking ‘one game at a time’ approach

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens has Terps as 1 seed………in NIT

ESPN.com’s Andy Katz says beating Wake likely ‘prerequisite’ for making Tournament

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter checks in with prospect Mychal Parker (must subscribe)

Terp Center’s Seth Hoffman says Neal watching other ‘bubble’ teams closely

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says some think Terps capable of beating mighty UConn

Washington Times’ Mike Fratto says Terps ‘peaking at right time’

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz says all-senior midfield getting ‘notice’

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Ken Murray says former Terp Fokou trying to finish ‘improbable journey’ from Frostburg to NFL

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem discusses Spring LB’s with Seamonson (must subscribe)

Turtle Sports Report’s Matt Alkire says Terps have offered ’10 prospect Dominique Easley (must subscribe)

Turtle Sports Report’s John Wallpher says in-state prospect Ezell wants to remain ‘local’ (must subscribe)

NAVY LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Mids rally from 4 goals down to top Lehigh

The Sun says Patrick Moran, Brian Striffler each scored 2 goals in Navy’s win

NAVY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Kina honored by NABC

NAVY FOOTBALL:

Go Mids’ Adam Nettina says battle to backup Dobbs will engage this spring (must subscribe)

MORGAN BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Bears made mistake by not locking up Bozeman

ESPN.com’s Pat Forde says Bears have ‘heavy burden’ to get first NCAA Tournament berth

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Koppens tallies 9 points as Greyhounds beat Bryant

Inside Lacrosse’s Christian Swezey says Ricci added 3 points, 13 ground balls in win

The Sun’s John Weaver says Bryant’s Greer continuing ‘brilliant’ play in Loyola game

HOPKINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Dave Ryan says Hofstra’s Tierney has evident Hopkins ties

TOWSON BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Hairston named to CAA All-Tournament team

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Mike Klingaman says ‘Eers made turnaround from early 4-8 NEC record to get to Championship battle tonight

Carroll County Times’ Bob Blubaugh says Eers ‘expected’ to be playing in 2nd straight NEC Championship game

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Mount looking to beat Robert Morris in NEC Tournament for 3rd straight year

The AP says Robert Morris’ Nwigwe will play tonight despite court summons

MT. ST. MARY’S LACROSSE:

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Mountaineers have been solid defensively despite lack of wins

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Eers trying to find more offense

HORSE RACING:

Thoroughbred Times says Pimlico spring meet reduced to 20 days

The Sun’s Bill Ordine says $2 million ‘shortfall’ lead to limit of racing at Pimlico

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Mt. St. Mary’s 71, Robert Morris 61. I’ll go with the team that has been there recently. But it won’t be easy.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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